Diary: Where have all the top-rate taxpayers with 10 kids gone?

When George Osborne announced that he was abolishing child benefit payment for higher earners back in October, he told the Conservative annual conference: "A system that taxes working people at high rates only to give it back in child benefit is very difficult to justify."

It would indeed be difficult to justify, if it actually happened. But in the intervening months, the Treasury has done the maths and some interesting statistics have emerged.

The first is that a top-rate taxpayer could get back in child benefit what he or she is paying in income tax only by claiming for at least 10 children. Not many people are that fecund.

Statistic two: across the country there are 365 people claiming child benefit for 10 or more children.

Statistic three: as far as the Treasury can ascertain, none of those 365 is a top-rate taxpayer. In summary, there is not a single known example anywhere of "a system that taxes working people at high rates only to give it back in child benefit".

Pasty tax started with George's hero, Lawson

When the Chancellor announced his now notorious tax on pasties and hot pies, he claimed to be closing a loophole that had existed "for 20 years or more". He was actually understating the case. The Labour Party has dug up a letter written to a Labour MP in April 1984 by the then Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, whom Osborne is known to hold in very high regard.

Lawson explained: "The VAT extension on hot takeaway food which I announced in the Budget applies to food and drink which has been deliberately heated so that it can be consumed while still hot. It does not apply to food and drink that has cooled to room temperature by the time it is sold or to things like pies and pasties which are warm because they are freshly baked and not to enable them to be consumed while still hot."

Lawson was getting a lot of stick because he had just put VAT on fish and chips, but it was no anomaly that pasties were spared. It was the conscious policy of one of Osborne's political heroes.

Cameron chum lands A4e job

According to David Cameron's biographers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning, there was a time when the PM might have envied George Bridges, who was four years younger but rising faster up that narrow career path for young aspirants who go from being political advisers to running the country.

But Bridges' political career never quite took off, and he went into public relations instead. He has now landed the job of rescuing the reputation of A4e, the company hired by the Government to find work for the unemployed, which has been hit by allegations of fraud.

Prince Philip still has gift of the gaffe

The Queen and Prince Philip were on a visit to north London yesterday when they came upon David Miller, a 60-year-old man in a mobility scooter. Proving that his penchant for making risky remarks has not dimmed with age, the Prince inquired: "How many people have you knocked over this morning on that thing?" None, was the answer. Mr Miller said afterwards: "No offence was taken."

Campbell deigns to chair hit show

It is one of those remarks that sticks in the mind. Some years ago your diarist was discussing the BBC's long-running show Have I Got News for You with the then political editor of the Daily Mirror, who stated emphatically that it was one programme he would never go on.

Other journalists could only dream of being important enough to be invited on but Alastair Campbell – for it was he – was just approaching that level of celebrity where an invitation might come his way. Years have passed, he is older, he takes himself less seriously, and he has relented. He is one of the guest chairmen the BBC has lined up for the show's 43rd series, starting on 13 April.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee